Coronavirus: 'Concerning' surge in young people becoming infected, says PHE

Total of 3,995 new cases identified among people in their 20s in two weeks up to 30 August

Samuel Lovett
Tuesday 08 September 2020 12:24
Matt Hancock says young people responsible for a large number of new Covid-19 cases

Public Health England (PHE) has warned of a ‘concerning’ increase in cases among young people, as the latest data shows that those aged between 20 and 29 accounted for the majority of new infections in the two weeks up to 30 August. 

A total of 3,995 new cases were identified within this age group between 17-30 August, according to PHE’s latest weekly surveillance report.

This amounts to 26.5 cases per 100,000 people — the highest rate of any group for the two-week period.

“We’re concerned about the increases we’re seeing in younger people as we don’t want to see more parents and grandparents catching the virus from their younger family members,” PHE said on Tuesday.

“Even if you’re in a lower risk age group, following government advice on social distancing, self-isolation, wearing face coverings correctly and practising good hand hygiene is crucial to preventing the virus spreading.”

In certain parts of the country, the case rate for those in their 20s is much higher: in the north-west, this value has reached 49.3 per 100,000 people — almost twice the English figure.

The case rate for those aged 10-19 has quadrupled after reaching a low point in early July, while the rate for those in their 20s has tripled, according to PHE data.

This comes as health secretary Matt Hancock warned that UK could see a second spike in cases if young people failed to follow social distancing rules.

"The numbers have been going up. And we've seen in other countries where this leads, and it is not a good place," Mr Hancock said on Monday.

He pointed to France and Spain, "where that second wave started largely amongst younger people” before going on to spread among the wider population.

"And now we're seeing a sharp rise in the number of people in hospital and the number of people who are dying in those countries.

"That hasn't happened here yet. And if people follow the social distancing rules, then we can stop that from happening here."

Although cases are continuing to rise nationally, registered deaths involving Covid-19 in England and Wales have fallen to their lowest level since mid-March.

Some 101 deaths were registered in the week to 28 August, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). This is down from 138 deaths in the previous week, and is also the lowest number since the week ending 13 March, when five deaths were registered. 

Just over 57,400 deaths involving coronavirus have now been registered in the UK.

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